10 May 2023

That Coronation

We can't really know, but, surely, there is a nice fat chance that this was the first Coronation an important feature of which ... the oath business ... had to be changed less than 24 hours before the event because the Archbishop of CAnterbury had, welbilically, made a booboo during the drafting. 

Oh dear. 

So much for Fossil Fuels being a Safe Pair of Hands.

But this disaster was the product of a more deep-rooted cultural problem.

The Order of Service, prepared long beforehand (well, they had seven decades to prepare for this event, didn't they?) was kept secret from the public, and only revealed ... detail by teasing detail ... bit by bit. This meant that, by the time anybody had the opportunity to scrutinise the drafts, it was almost too late to eliminate the error. 

Let us hope that, before any similar event, this condescending mind-set may have passed.

When I was a boy, I somehow picked up (I suspect at an old-book sale) a copy of the Coronation Service in 1902 of Edward VII ... 'Edward the Caresser' as the irreverent called him. It is a Book of Common Prayer with the Coronation elegantly printed and stitched in. (I bet this was published more than a week before the doings).

Comparing this with the texts in Saturday's Times, the thing that strikes me most, of all the welbifications, is the absence of the Litany. In the Pontificale Romanum, and in liturgical books of the earlier Christian centuries, the Easter services of Initiation, the services of Ordination of Bishops, priests and Deacons, Coronations of Monarchs, Papal Inaugurations, Dedications and Consecrations ... you name it ... they began with the Litany. Indeed the earliest example we have of Western or British liturgy, the Stowe Missal, demonstrates this.

You can just imagine the Committee which put together the welbified rite gleefully calculating how many minutes would be "saved" by cutting our the Litany. But with it, exited a liturgical instinct that if something is important ... if you want something rather a lot ... you pray for it humbly and ... quite a lot. As the Byzantine Rite admits, 'eti kai eti ... ' "Again and again let us pray to the Lord ...".

As I read the texts, I found myself wondering quite where that starkly odd stuff about "I am a faithful Protestant" comes from. I can't find it in the the Order of Coronation  which satisfied the Caresser. (He simply swore to maintain the Protestant Reformed Religion established by Law, and the set-up of the Church of England.)

Archbishop Lefebvre would, I am sure, have been as saddened as I was by the omission of "When you see this Orb set under the Cross, remember that the whole world is subject to the Power and Empire of Christ our Redeemer."

I notice the absence from Saturday's service of "Receive this Ring, the ensign of Kingly Dignity, and of Defence of the Catholic Faith". In the welbified service, "Kingly Dignity" does indeed survive  but "the Catholic Faith" has, I fear, done a runner. Also missing is the old Offertorium sung by the choir, with its appropriate references to Incense and Sacrifice. Saturday's was not a belle epoque service!

In the hymn  Angularis fundamentum: Text:  trinum Deum unicumque. Neale's translation: God the One and God the trinal. 

Welby: God the one, in threefold glory.

Dunno about you, but that sounds to me just a weeny tadge Modalist.

But I'm not worried. At heart, I'm just a crypto-Modernist. There's nothing about Sabellianism that couldn't be expiated by a formal auto da Fe in Parliament Square. 

[Hint hint: good idea to gag Welby before dragging him to the stake.]

{Of course, that 'threefold glory' comes in fact from the New English Hymnal, not a product I quite trust. I'm not sure that the Trinality of the Christian God is a matter of doxa. Ancient and Modern offers 'God the One in Three adoring'.}


√Čamonn said...

That's Modalism, Paaatrick!!!


Thomas said...

One thing I did notice, however, was that Mr. Welby and his colleagues celebrated their Anglican eucharistic rite with their backs to the assembled worthies, including the new monarch. Will PF and his eminent Roche now ban all further ecumenical contact with such clearly unreformed 'indietrists' until they get with the program?

T Graham said...

Regarding the specific oath and affirmation of Protestantism that you mention it is apparently required by law but I have read that this was sworn by Elizabeth II and previous monarchs at some kind of Accession council prior to the coronation and therefore didn't need to be part of the rite on the day... but this wasn't organised for His Majesty.

pueblosw@gmail.com said...

For good reason has speculation arisen again about Charles being the last monarch. While a "democratic" European alternative would be quite more factional, it would scarce be an improvement.

james said...

RE "faithful Protestant": it is a pared-back version of the Accession Declaration prescribed by the Bill of Rights 1689. Edward VII took the older version:

I, A. B., by the grace of God King (or Queen) of England, Scotland and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, do solemnly and sincerely in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare, that I do believe that in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper there is not any Transubstantiation of the elements of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ at or after the consecration thereof by any person whatsoever: and that the invocation or adoration of the Virgin Mary or any other Saint, and the Sacrifice of the Mass, as they are now used in the Church of Rome, are superstitious and idolatrous. And I do solemnly in the presence of God profess, testify, and declare that I do make this declaration, and every part thereof, in the plain and ordinary sense of the words read unto me, as they are commonly understood by English Protestants, without any such dispensation from any person or authority or person whatsoever, or without thinking that I am or can be acquitted before God or man, or absolved of this declaration or any part thereof, although the Pope, or any other person or persons, or power whatsoever, should dispense with or annul the same or declare that it was null and void from the beginning

Since his coronation fell after he opened his first parliament, however, he took it at the State Opening rather than at the Coronation. The new version set out in the Accession Declaration Act 1910 can be taken at either, depending on which falls first: George V and Elizabeth II took it at the State Opening, George VI and Charles III at the Coronation.

Neill said...

The thing I noticed was the absence of the Creed.
But we don't actually believe any of this these days, do we?

prince Matecki said...

There ist of course the old "missale westmonasteriense" which is important just because it has a specific mass for coronation.
As to the litany, I would presume that old BCP fueled versions contained it up to HM Elisabeth II as well as the missale from before the reformation.
I would guess that the creed was omitted for reasons of the shortened time frame as well as liturgically speaking on a simple weekday it is not necessary.
Not having to verbalise "one holy catholic and apostolic" in the presence of other representatives of different faith came as a surplus.
I would leave the question of faithfullness to the judgement of Lord Almighty.

william arthurs said...

Common Worship makes the Creed optional on a weekday, on the basis that everyone present will also be attending on Sunday. I used to serve at a weekday lunchtime Common Worship Holy Communion, so conscious of the possibility of reducing its length to about 15-20 mins by omitting all optional components.

Arthur Gallagher said...

I happened to be in London during the coronation, and started watching it in the rain on the big screen in Hyde Park, before heeding the entreaties of a friend, and retreating to a pub, where it was playing on TV. I thought that it was awful. The ceremony had been changed quite a bit, with the old, white people being marginalized, and disrespected generally, and men being particularly marginalized. I was particularly struck by the huge number of female choristers, in a country famous for boy choirs. Then there was the part of the oath promising to uphold the Protestant religion- historically intended to guarantee the massive transfer of land and wealth to the establishment from everybody else. It was more of an assertion that "I PROMISE that I will never, ever EVER allow those Catholics to get any of their stuff back" Then there was the part of the oath where he swears that really is a "sincere Protestant" Honest. Perhaps that is something that requires confirmation, because the actual reason for that part of the oath was that at one time most people in line for the throne were anything but protestants, sincere or otherwise, and one or two kings were either secretly Catholic, or became Catholic on their deathbed. Indeed, sincere Protestantism is an evanescent thing. James, Duke of York really was a sincere Protestant- but later read a book on the subject, and famously "poped", before becoming James II. Books. No sooner had Charles promised that he was sincere in his Protestant beliefs that he proceeded to have a Hindu do a reading in the service, and had official involvement in the ceremony from Jews, Sikhs, Muslims, and lord knows who else, investing him with the armils, gauntlet, spurs, etc. Showing that, in reality, his Christianity is highly negotiable. All of this is a great shame. The coronation and especially the anointing, stand for something very important: The Kingship of Christ. It is sad that the kingship of Charles von Schleswig-Holstein (etc.) takes precedence.